1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wimborne

Wimborne (Wimborne Minster), a market town, in the eastern parliamentary division of. Dorsetshire, England, 111½ m. S.W. by W. from London by the London & South Western railway; served also by the Somerset and Dorset railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 3696. It iscsituated on a gentle slope above the river Allen near its confluence with the Stour. The church or minster of St Cuthberga is a fine cruciform structure of various styles from Early Norman to Perpendicular, and consists of a central lantern tower, nave and choir with aisles, transepts without aisles, western or bell tower, north and south porches, crypt and vestry or sacristy, with the library over it. It contains a large number of interesting monuments, including a brass with the date 873 (supposed to mark the resting place of King Æthelred I.), a lunar orrery of the 14th century and an octagonal Norman font of Purbeck marble. There is a church dedicated to St John the Evangelist. The free grammar school occupies modern buildings in the Elizabethan style. Near Wimborne is Canford Manor, the seat of Lord Wimborne, a mansion in the Tudor style, built by Blore in 1826, and improved from designs of Sir Charles Barry. The town depends chiefly on agriculture; but the manufacture of hose is carried on to a small extent, and there are also coach building works. Although Wimborne (Wimburn) has been identified with the Vinogladia of the Antonine Itinerary, the first undoubted evidence of settlement is the entry of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, under the date 718, that Cuthburh, sister of King Ine, founded the abbey here and became the first abbess; the house is also mentioned in a somewhat doubtful epistle of St Aldhelm in 705. The importance of the foundation made it the burial-place of King Æthelred in 871, and of King Sifferth in 962. Æthelwald seized and fortified Wimborne in his revolt in 901 against Edward the Elder. The early abbey was probably destroyed by the Danes in the reign of Æthelred the Unready (978–1015), for in 1043 Edward the Confessor founded here a college of secular canons. The college remained unaltered until 1496, when Margaret, countess of Richmond, obtained letters patent from her son, Henry VII., to found a chantry, in connexion with which she established a school. The continuance of this was recommended by the commissioners of 1547, and in 1562 Elizabeth vested a great part of the property of the former college in a school corporation of twelve governors, who had charge of the church. New charters for the school were obtained from James I. in 1562 and from Charles I. At the conquest Wimborne was a royal borough, ancient demesne of the crown, and part of the manor of Kingston Lacy, which Henry I. gave to Robert Mellent, earl of Leicester. From him it descended by marriage to the earls of Lincoln, and, then passing by marriage to Earl Thomas of Lancaster, it became parcel of the county and later of the duchy of Lancaster; an inquisition of 1352 found that Henry, duke of Lancaster, had 77s. 3d. rent of assize in the borough of Wimborne. The borough is again mentioned in 1487–1488, when John Plecy held six messuages in free burgage of the king as of his borough of Wimborne, but it seems to have been entirely prescriptive, and was never a parliamentary borough. The town was governed until the 19th century by two bailiffs, chosen annually at a court leet of the royal manor of Wimborne borough, part of the manor of Kingston Lacy. The market held here on Friday of each week is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but seems to be of early origin. Wimborne carried on considerable manufactures of linen and woollen goods until the time of Charles II., when they declined, their place being taken by the stocking-knitting industry of the 18th century.

See John Hutchins, The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (3rd edition, Westminster, 1861); Anon., History of Wimborne Minster (London, 1860).